NEW DELHI: Following on its budget announcements designed to boost the rural Indian economy, the Government has approved a project aimed at making 60 million rural households digitally literate over the next two years.

Some Rs 2,351 crore ($353m) has been earmarked for the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA) initiative which will provide access to information, knowledge and skills for operating computers and other digital access devices. And, noted Rural Marketing, course content will also emphasise cashless transactions, which have become more important following demonetisation.

Last week, finance minister Arun Jaitley announced a 24% increase in spending for rural, agricultural and allied sectors, including investment in jobs and infrastructure. Consumer goods makers are stepping up their response, according to the Economic Times, as they invest in people and products to take advantage of the anticipated lift in consumer spending.

FMCG manufacturers like Godrej Consumer Products, Marico and Britannia, for example, have all indicated their intention to expand their teams and to launch more products aimed at rural consumers, including packs at price points of Rs 2, Rs 5 and Rs 10.

Electronics brands, including Samsung, Videocon and Panasonic, are also pushing into smaller towns, setting up new branches, warehouses and service centres.

"Ever since demonetisation, there is a change in the behaviour of urban households whereby those who used to buy multiple products are now at best buying one product," reported CM Singh, chief operating officer at Videocon.

"Hence, we have to expand presence in small towns and rural India, where there are a lot of first-time buyers … to continue the growth rate."

Dabur India, meanwhile, has created a full-fledged vertical for healthcare with a team of 200 professionals.

"We have been working towards not just enhancing our presence in the retail channel, but also improving the way we reach out," explained V Krishnan executive director for HR

"In addition, with Dabur expanding rural footprint, we are adding feet on street," he said.

Data sourced from Economic Times, Rural Marketing; additional content by Warc staff